Retail sales rise strongly in January - BRC

LONDON Tue Feb 5, 2013 1:51am GMT

A shop worker looks out at a passer-by from a hat shop in London November 13, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

A shop worker looks out at a passer-by from a hat shop in London November 13, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - British retail sales rose strongly in January, boosted by the popularity of tablet computers and smartphones while cheerier shoppers were also lured by special offers, a leading trade body said on Tuesday.

The British Retail Consortium said the total value of goods sold was up 3 percent compared to January 2011 - the largest increase since September. It rose 1.5 percent in December.

On a like-for-like basis, which excludes new floorspace, sales were 1.9 percent higher. That was the fastest rise since December 2011 and followed a 0.3 percent tick-up in sales in December 2012.

BRC Director General Helen Dickinson said the impact of unusually cold weather in January was too short-lived to have a big impact on sales growth over the month.

"People were tempted out by offers and promotions but also treated themselves to full-price and premium products early in January, particularly must-have technology items," she said.

"These factors, coupled with recovering consumer confidence, have added up to a more successful January than we saw last year."

The findings, which follow a survey showing a surprise pick-up in British consumer morale last month, may raise hopes that the economy will grow in the first quarter of 2013, dodging a 'triple-dip' recession.

(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova; editing by Ron Askew)

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